My mom’s journey on earth has come to an end as she passed Saturday early in the afternoon. Her husband rethought his decision to wait until Monday to remove care and I was supportive of his decision. He didn’t want to see her suffer any more and I agreed. And, while I wasn’t there for her, him, or me, I was at peace with the decision.
My mom came from humble beginnings, raised in a house with a dirt floor basement. She witnessed indoor plumbing come to her childhood home. Playing cards, smoking, and drinking were family past times. Playing cards, fiercely, I might add, has carried on to this generation. She was taught that even if you were poor you could still be clean. . . with something about the price of a bar of Ivory Soap that could be used on your body, hair, and clothing.
I watched her in two marriages, three careers, and a college degree. She graduated from college the year I graduated from high school proving to me that it is never too late to learn. It used to frustrate me that it took her 45 minutes to buy a loaf of bread at the grocery store as she stopped to talk to everybody—she had either done their hair, cleaned their teeth, or taught their child—and sometimes it was more than one of those.
I don’t know if was the time working at the dentist office or the cost of braces, but I couldn’t leave the house without hearing something about being careful of my teeth. As I watch my son play soccer as a goalie and land on the ball while others are still kicking I can’t help but think the same thing. It makes me smile when I realize that I’m thinking it as I know a part of her is with me.
She had an eye for style and design and I was taught at a young age that your socks must match the rest of your clothing; even better if your socks matched your sweater and your headband—thanks to her friend Phyllis. Then there were the craft years—macramé, crochet, knitting, cross-stitch, card making, etc. I have many fruits of her labors. Decorating went from baskets to P. Buckley Moss with an affinity for watermelons and snowmen. She once told me that she wished she could buy things when she saw them that reminded her of other people’s desires and collections.
My mom knew the value of a dollar and taught me to never pay full price for something that could go on sale. This is something my family knows all too well as I can put my hands on the one shirt I did pay full price for and so can my husband. She did enjoy hearing about other people’s shopping endeavors, though.
Her fears and weaknesses became my strengths. Her mom didn’t drive, and my mom wouldn’t drive on highways, freeways, or after dark. I can say that I have driven on multi-lane interstates in
Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, and throughout Iowa.
The cycle has been broken!
I told her on the phone that my “boys” were going to a Scout campout and I was going to have the house to myself. She asked if I was going to be afraid to be home by myself. That was her story, not mine. I reminded her of all the years I lived alone and how I was looking forward to having the house to myself, even though I did sleep better the next night when my family returned.
As her physical world became smaller due to her illness, her mental world stayed beyond the confines of her bedroom as she took an interest in everyone’s activities via phone or visits. While she couldn’t enjoy eating she watched cooking shows with great interest often sharing recipes or ideas. I will miss the phone not ringing at 6:30 on Mondays for our weekly chat.
Eventually the morning tear stained pillow cases will lesson as the pain of her loss subsides. I know she is in a better place with no pain, sickness, or fear. And, as I understand, she has been given a job to do by her friends. I know she is now dancing with the stars.